However I am happy to pen a short reply to his nonsense (which you can see in 2 parts of Rizzo’s Palestine Think Tank site).
Bloodcurdling Libel (a Summer Story)
You can get a flavour of Shamir’s politics when he wrote to Lee Barnes, legal advisor to the BNP accusing them of being too pro-Jewish!!
‘I do not feel at ease accusing you and your comrades of betraying the Britons and joining with the Jews, but if I'd keep mum, stones won't.’
There can be little doubt about Israel Shamir’s fascist politics. Yet Atzmon first came into the picture when he wrote an article ‘The Protocols of the Elders of London’ which bases itself on the notorious anti-Semitic Czarist forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
In ‘On anti-Semitism’ Atzmon stated that:
"we must begin to take the accusation that the Jewish people are trying to control the world very seriously…. …. American Jewry makes any debate on whether the ‘Protocols of the elder of Zion’ are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant.’
Atzmon’s ‘Protocols’ article was produced because we had criticised a tiny group Deir Yassin Remembered which had as its advisor, Shamir, and those British Director Paul Eisen was another holocaust denier. Atzmon described Shamir to me as a ‘unique and advanced thinker’ so it is clear where Atzmon is coming from. Just as he described Paul Eisen’s Holocaust Wars, a full blooded defence of German neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel and holocaust denial as a ‘great text’. Atzmon isn’t a fascist but he is happy to defend those who are.
Ratcliffe is a good example of the saying that if you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas. He has clearly absorbed much of the racist nonsense of Atzmon & co. He states:
‘the well-manured ideological soil of ‘Jews as Christ killers’ tilled by centuries of dominant European Catholic and later Protestant (particularly Lutheran) ideology’
Here we have an example of just such medieval anti-Semitism but Ratcliffe defends it
‘Judaephobia is then a mental disease, and as a mental disease it is hereditary, and having been inherited for 2, 000 years it is incurable.’ [AutoEmancipation, p.5]
Ratcliffe gives us a definition of fascism, viz. ‘Twentieth Century Fascism in its basic foundations is nothing other than Capitalist Collectivism organised from within a nation state armed with an elitist/racist ideology.’
This really is nonsense and shows he understands nothing of that which he writes about. Was IG Farben or the other private firms who operated in Auschwitz & Monowitz collective capitalists or private enterprise? Was IBM nationalised in Germany? It is a myth that German Fascism, still less Italian or Spanish fascism, were examples of collective capitalism. Unfortunately Ratcliffe mistakes propaganda for reality. Likewise fascism (Italy/Spain) wasn’t particularly racist until in Italy the influence of Hitler was felt in 1938.
‘"Finally, I emphatically believe that the Nazi holocaust should be studied. Yet one cannot learn anything substantive until and unless the Holocaust industry is shut down. Meaningful historical inquiry practically requires that comparisons be made."
‘Another go of Zionist propaganda. The camp was an internment facility, attended by the Red Cross… This idea of "bombing Auschwitz" makes sense only if one accepts the vision of "industrial extermination factory", and it was formed only well after the war.’
Ratcliffe argues that ‘Zionism is a continuation of Jewishness’ but this is a false debate. Jewish identity, not the vague and essentialist ‘Jewishness’ which is a codeword for ‘Jewish race’ has changed many times historically. The primary Jewish identity today is indeed Zionistic, but there are also anti-racist and anti-Zionist Jewish identities. It is Atzmon who argues that to be Jewish is to be a Zionist.
In the ‘Not in my name’ essay of Atzmon, which Ratcliffe defends, we see exactly why Atzmon (& Ratcliffe) are Zionists. Atzmon writes:
‘by fighting Zionism in the name of their Jewish identity they approve Zionism. They must fail to realise that their form of resistance contributes to the labelling of the entire Jewish people as war criminals….
‘Accordingly, if we regard Jewish identity as a national definition then the label ‘Jew for peace’ or ‘Jew for human rights’ makes sense. … However, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that by doing so we accept the notion of Jewish nationalism. In other words, we become devoted Zionists.’
'Jews cannot criticise Zionism in the name of their ethnic belonging because such an act is in itself an approval of Zionism. Practically speaking, Jews can’t really oppose Zionism unless they adopt an alternative view that questions the Zionist totality. '
Ratcliffe writes ‘Are people in the Palestinian solidarity movement so naïve and gullible that they would countenance such an alliance with right-wing Fascists?’ And the answer is no, but that is why it is important to keep racists like Shamir, Eisen and Atzmon well away from the movement, because nothing does more to play into the hands of Zionism than association with naked racists. Ratcliffe continues:
‘It seems the tenuous logic intimated in this paper is that those who listen to and agree with everything Gilad Atzmon writes, will then go on to listen and agree with everything Shamir and Eisen have said simply because he has said one has produced a ’important text’ and the other is a ’unique and advanced thinker‘.’
But for Roy Ratcliffe it is clear that support for the small number of anti-Semites and racists around the Palestine Solidarity movement is more important than Palestine Solidarity itself. And that is of course another characteristic of the Atzmon/Rizzo brigade, who earlier this year posted a ‘petition’ supporting themselves – ‘outstanding personalities’ they called themselves when we criticised them!!
Ratcliffe states that ‘We need to bear in mind that truthful criticism can be hurtful without necessarily being phobic’. That is of course true, but when Atzmon blames the largely anti-Zionist Jews of Eastern Europe, most of whom voted for the anti-Zionist Bund (Jewish Workers Party of Russia, Lithuania & Poland) for the Holocaust then this isn’t about ‘truthful criticism’ but blaming the victims of the Nazi holocaust, for their own demise, since they did not ‘internalise the real meaning’ of the conditions that led to their murder.
‘Seemingly, it is the personification of WW2 and the Holocaust that blinded the Israelis and their supporters from internalising the real meaning of the conditions and the events that led towards their destruction in the first place.’
Atzmon, in the historical debate between the anti-Zionist Bund and Zionism, attacks the latter.
‘The debate between the Bund and the Zionist movement has very little historical significance, yet it enlightens the notion of Jewish tribal politics; it is a glimpse into Jewish marginal philosophy and identity-politics…. While the Bund failed to grasp the obvious meaning of cosmopolitanism and universalism as an opposition to any form of racial or ethnic division within the ‘international’, early Zionists were clever enough to realise that the true meaning of nationalism can only be realised in terms of geographical orientation. For the Zionist, nationalism meant a bond between man and ‘his’ land.’
Of course there are some who are impressed by this gibberish, a total failure to understand the Bund and the class struggle within and without the working class Jews of the Pale of Settlement. But whereas the Bund organised self-defence against the pogroms and fought alongside Russian and Polish workers, the Zionists that Atzmon sees as ‘clever’ allied with the Czarist autocracy that his friend Israel Shamir looks back on with fond admiration. This is the creature that Roy Ratcliffe defends.
Ratcliffe points out that the Jewish Orthodox also holds the murdered Jews of Eastern Europe were to blame for sinning against the tenets of Judaism. That is true, which is why their views are so abhorrent and reactionary. But religious fundamentalists always blame the most catastrophic events on people having forsaken their religion. It has little political meaning. Those who blame the Jews politically for the holocaust are a different kettle of fish or are we to accept now that Atzmon too is a religious fundamentalist?
Err yes. Any basic Marxist understanding of religion understands that religion is a social and political phenomenon, a creature of its time, the ‘soul of a soulless world.’ Or take this statement of the obvious:
This is interesting because none of the above organisations were socialist. Mapai never even claimed to be socialist. The form of socialism, i.e. collective organisation, was adopted in order to pursue colonial objectives. Just as the Boer Trekkers and the American colonists engaged in collective colonialism at different times. How could the Jewish only kibbutzim have ever been socialist when they excluded the Palestinians? Mapai was set up (as an intelligent Zionist like Zeev Sternhall recognises in his Founding Myths of Zionism) as an anti-socialist organisation. Palestine Poale Zion was likewise never socialist and markedly diverged from its Polish counterpart (in Russia it had collapsed into the Bolshevik party since Jewish workers saw no need for this movement of the middle class when the working class movement saw of the anti-Semitic movements). That is why Ben-Gurion coined the slogan ‘From Class to Nation’. The purpose of organising the working class was to build Zionism not socialism.
The reality is that Roy Ratcliffe takes 30 pages to pen a defence of Atzmon precisely because he doesn’t understand either the nature of Zionism or the critique of Atzmon himself. It is one of the hallmarks of Atzmon and his supporters that there is an inverse relationship between what they have to say and how long they take to say it!